our robust power system

I’m writing this during a blackout. Our little enclave, just southeast of Kennedy and Eglinton, can have the power out when the nearby streets are fine. I can see that the (formerly derelict) Coffee Time has power, as has the block the other side of Kennedy. I wonder what makes us so special?

“It will feel strange …”

Leo Marks, on hearing of an old couple who died within days of one another, and were buried together:

It will feel strange
Not to nudge you
Or to talk to you
Or keep you warm
When you’re lying there
Only a few feet away
Or perhaps even less
But we shall get used to it in time
Of which we’ll have plenty

We always treasured silences
In which we said everything
We shall continue to treasure them
And to say everything
Throughout the longest silence of all.

 — from Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker’s Story 1941-1945.

a bit better than before

I just ran the fuel numbers for our recent grand trip to Missouri. For 4380km in a Honda Civic DX, we used about 292 litres of fuel. That works out to be 6.7l/100km (or 42.3 / 35.3 UK / US mpg). That’s not quite as good as I’d hoped; I’ll put it down to driving a little fast on very chunky snow tyres.

At least it’s better than last time

ack bleah

I picked up a pack of Wrigley’s Doublemint Kona Creme Coffee Flavored (as they say) Gum in Missouri last week. I strongly advise that you don’t.

To use the crude but apt expression coined by Jay Primeau to describe a badly-mixed Kahlua cocktail, it tastes like coffee flavoured ass. While chewing, it causes the gorge to rise (I think it’s the slightly minty edge of the gum base), and has an aftertaste akin to latte barf.

Canada’s own Thrills Gum may still taste like soap (as it says on the package, and they’re not lying), but this is just … eww.

ill-advised name, great store

BM-Electronics swapped my ill-fated nVidia card for a shiny fast MSI ATI PCIe card with no restock fee; yay BM!

They’re rapidly becoming my favourite computer store; they always have what I need, and it always does what they say it does. It may look a bit grubby, but it’s great

Goodbye, childhood

Goodbye:

  • headache glue cracking from finger tips
  • badly-painted pilot with obvious thumb-prints
  • squint and/or torn decals
  • undercarriage installed backwards, if at all
  • spilled tin of Humbrol enamel
  • leftover sprue rattling in cardboard box with an unidentified piece still attached
  • curious v-shaped stand that never quite stood level
  • hung squintly from bedroom light by white thread until dusty wing missing from too many runins with parental heads
  • taken down for final flight whirled round head on string until dashed against clothespole or arcing up up into neighbour’s fir tree (it’s still there today)
  • when older, packed with cotton balls nicked from sister, doused with turps, crashed flaming kamikaze onto the compost heap (sorry dad, your onions never did well on paint thinner and burnt plastic)

Goodbye, Airfix

Maybe it was too easy …

Configuring the rest of the Sempron box has been a slog. It seems that there isn’t a single wireless adaptor that works with 64-bit Linux. I might have to resort to a wireless ethernet adaptor, like the D-Link DWL-G820. They’re not cheap, but they may be the only option.

the outside world

Finally got something useful done with the Thinkpad with the broken backlight. Thanks to lots of help from Paul, and a critical bit of advice from Stephen, it’s now living on my network and visible to the outside world.
What had me initially confused was that both my modem (a SpeedTouch 546) and my Netgear router have NAT firewalls. I had to declare the router as a DMZ on my modem, and the Thinkpad a DMZ on my router. Also, the router’s DynDNS support was only reporting its IP address as seen behind the modem, so I had to turn that off and use dynDNS from the modem.

Security hole? Perhaps; but it’s not as if OpenBSD is the least secure or most widely-used OS. I’ve really only got sshd and thttpd running, so there’s not much to chew on

convert an angle to a bearing in excel

I can’t believe I had difficulty with this one for so long:

 =MOD(450-angle,360)
This assumes you’re measuring the angle in the usual Cartesian way; anticlockwise from the x-axis.

Energy Saving Tips for Canadians, #1: a name thing

Canadians are remarkably profligate in their energy use, and I think I know why. It’s not to do with the oft-cited scale of the country, the size of our houses, our cold winters or our hot summers, it’s something simpler than that; it’s what we call our electricity.

Power here is generally known as hydro, and with it comes images of tree-lined rivers with bears happily fishing for salmon. Local electricity companies tend to have that watery thing in their name: Toronto Hydro, Hamilton Hydro, London Hydro (Crieff Hydro is something quite different, though). Some happy green images, eh?

I propose that we stop using the term hydro, and replace it with the snappier smog belching, nuke leaking, only fractionally hydro. It’d certainly make yer average Kathy or Doug drop their double-double (or donut, or dumaurier) when they got their smog belching, nuke leaking, only fractionally hydro bill in. Energy use would plummet, and at no cost to anyone!

enraptored

They may have lost, but the Raptors put on a good show tonight. They held the Hornets into double extra time.

I think basketball is rapidly becoming my favourite spectator sport. Don’t think I’ll ever be a sportsfan, but there are worse ways to spend an evening.

the mayor is back in town (or will be)

Mayor McCA is touring in Canada soon!

May 4-Ebar Guelph ON
May 5- The Jane Bond. 004 Princess St, Waterloo ON
May 6- Music Gallery- The Over The Top Festival Toronto ON (advanced tics recommended for this one).
May 7- Casbah. Donut Rock City (Hamilton) ON,
May 8-10- TBA
May 11- The Paramount. Moncton NB
May 12- World Cafe 2412 Agricola St , Halifax NS
May 13- Gus' Pub 2605 Agricola St, Halifax NS
May 13-17- TBA

my letter to etymotic

To: Etymotic Research Inc. Customer Support

I recently placed an order with you for accessories for my Isolator ER-6i headphones. I was very disappointed when UPS added an additional brokerage charge of approximately US$27 (plus taxes and duties) to the order. Since the value of the the order was only $43, your courier’s brokerage charge was almost two-thirds the value of the goods ordered.

Please consider using another courier for Canadian orders. USPS/Canada Post’s brokerage charges are much smaller, of the order of $5.

I would also like to note that none of your agents in Toronto seems able to stock these spares. I visited all three of the dealers mentioned on your website:

  • Long & McQuade had no stock, and didn’t seem particularly keen on ordering any for me.
  • Carbon Computers, though very helpful, only had eartips for the ER-6, and didn’t know that they wouldn’t work with the ER-6i.
  • CPUsed sold me an incomplete bag of ER6-14 eartips; only 6 tips for the full price of 10. When they weren’t assuring me that they’d work with the ER-6i, they were trying to sell me a set of Shure E2C headphones, which they said were better.

Up until now, I have been widely recommending your products. Until I know that you’re serious about supporting your Canadian customers, however, I cannot recommend your products to anyone in this country.

Back from Missouri

Unpacking and all. Guess what? I was selected to be the TSA’s Mr Random again! I detect a pattern …

More later, when I’ve unpacked.

How to stay warm, #1: The World’s Longest Serial Cable

the world\
Had to do some field work near Zurich yesterday, and it was way snowy. Only by having the world’s longest serial cable could I stay warm inside the truck while I did diagnostics.

EcoBunk Unplugged: the 15th Annual EcoBunk Awards

ecobunk unplugged 2005
TEA sez:

EcoBunk Unplugged
the 15th Annual EcoBunk Awards

For advertising excellence in confusing the public & compromising the environment.

Our annual fundraiser and comedy show pokes fun at the most outrageous corporate green advertising of 2005. Sometimes we even point the finger at ourselves. We present nominated ads under nine different categories and reveal the winner. The laughter lasts for two full hours.

Of course, we don’t actually send awards to the winning companies.

Come celebrate with us! Ecobunk is a popular and favourite event among the environmentally-minded in Toronto, Waterloo and points beyond.

Thursday, December 8th, 2005
Plaza Flamingo
423 College Street
Show starts at 8:00pm
Doors & Cash Bar opens at 6:30pm
Tickets: $20
To reserve your seat(s) call TEA 416-596-0660

*** Note we are asking for prepayment this year and can accept credit cards or cheques. ***

Don’t miss the event this year!

I’ll be there. Will you?